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Business Member Spotlight - Oklahoma Aquarium

Nurturing Sustainability: In a recent interview, Dr. Ann Money, a key figure at the Oklahoma Aquarium, unveiled the institution's robust commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness. The conversation delved into various facets of the aquarium's green initiatives, revealing a profound dedication to fostering a more eco-friendly future.

A Scor3card Journey:

The Oklahoma Aquarium has been involved with Scor3card, The Sustainability Alliance's measurement tool, for the past four years and underscores the aquarium's ongoing efforts towards continuous improvement and environmental responsibility.

Mission with a Purpose:

The Oklahoma Aquarium's mission, as outlined by Dr. Money, is to "inspire education and conservation of the aquatic world through interactive discovery". With a primary emphasis on education, the aquarium aims to enlighten visitors about the hidden marvels underwater, the intrinsic beauty of the natural world, and the critical importance of sustainability. Dr. Money envisions that a visit to the aquarium should leave guests not only awestruck by aquatic wonders but also instill a deep sense of connection and responsibility towards the planet.

Technological Collaboration:

Recently, the Oklahoma Aquarium partnered with The Sustainability Alliance for the integration of their TerraScore app in their Think Blue to Go Green initiative. Dr. Money expresses how this app serves as a powerful tool, offering visitors tangible ways to engage with sustainability actions during their aquarium visit,

"Last year we partnered with The Sustainability Alliance to incorporate their TerraScore app across our facility, and that's been great because that gives me a very solid tool to offer people to take action."

The Scor3card Attraction:

The Oklahoma Aquarium's initial attraction to Scor3card stemmed from a presentation by the organization when it was known as Sustainable Tulsa, where the engaging narrative and passion conveyed by the Executive Director, Corey Williams, resonated deeply. Dr. Money shares,

"When I learned about the organization it was then Sustainable Tulsa... Corey's team came and gave a presentation about what Scor3card was and what it meant to be involved with the program, and I was hooked immediately."

She highlights how the tool's ability to provide baseline measurements became a crucial aspect, aligning seamlessly with the aquarium's goal of showcasing existing sustainability actions and fostering awareness among the staff.

Initiatives in Action:

One standout initiative at the Oklahoma Aquarium is their innovative water management system. Dr. Money details the process of filtering and reusing all water within the facility.

"The first thing is that we reuse all of our water... so we filter it and we reuse it", she explains.

This not only addresses economic considerations but, more importantly, underscores the vital importance of sustainable water practices, especially in a landlocked state like Oklahoma.

"Obviously we don't have an ocean in Oklahoma, so we have to make one, and it takes a lot of water, and it takes a lot of salt and minerals, and the salt is very expensive", Dr. Money elaborates.

Additionally, the aquarium has embraced initiatives such as the creation of pollinator gardens and ethical sourcing of animals. These efforts contribute not only to biodiversity but also align with the broader mission of responsible environmental stewardship.

Lighting the Way:

Among the notable achievements, Dr. Money proudly highlights the aquarium's transition from metal halides to LEDs, a move that significantly enhances energy efficiency. This move aligns with the aquarium's overarching sustainability campaign, "Think Blue to Go Green," initiated nearly a decade ago. Through strategically placed graphics and messaging, the campaign aims to educate visitors on various environmental issues, empowering them to take action for a sustainable future.

Ethical Animal Sourcing: Nurturing Marine Life Responsibly

A pivotal aspect of the Oklahoma Aquarium's commitment to sustainability lies in their approach to animal sourcing. Dr. Money sheds light on this crucial element, emphasizing the ethical considerations woven into the fabric of the institution's practices.

"We only use reputable distributors. A lot of countries that happen to be around coral reefs, where these fish exist, are impoverished. People are trying to feed their families," she explains.

In regions where the aquarium sources its marine life, economic challenges often drive individuals to engage in fishing not only for sustenance but also as a means of livelihood. However, this well-intentioned pursuit can inadvertently lead to destructive practices such as dynamiting reefs or using cyanide, causing irreparable harm to the delicate ecosystems.

The Oklahoma Aquarium takes a stand against such harmful practices by forging relationships with distributors who adhere to ethical standards. These partnerships extend beyond mere transactions; they represent a commitment to responsible sourcing, ensuring that the marine life showcased in the aquarium is acquired through sustainable and humane methods.

By scrutinizing the supply chain, the aquarium ensures that the distributors they collaborate with are known entities with a track record of responsible practices. Dr. Money underlines the significance of this approach, highlighting the importance of knowing "where their animals came from or how they were caught."

In summary, the Oklahoma Aquarium, under Dr. Money's passionate leadership, emerges as a leading force in environmental consciousness within the community. Their commitment to initiatives like Scor3card, coupled with engaging campaigns and practical changes, positions the aquarium not only as a place of wonder but as a beacon of inspiration for sustainable living. The ripple effect of their efforts extends beyond the confines of the aquarium, urging visitors to become active participants in the global movement towards a greener, more sustainable world.


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